Family, Journal, Marriage

The Three (Other) Words My Coach Loves to Hear

Two days a week when I kiss my husband good-bye in the morning, I say three words. In the midst of twins, backpacks, lunch boxes, school papers and jackets, I say these words. As he tries to go get out of the house on time directing my twin girls out the door, I say these words.

“Good game, babe.”

It’s a chance for us to pause and recognize the schedule, the events and the life we lead. During football season, it’s Thursdays and Fridays. During basketball, it’s Tuesdays and Fridays.

While daily practices don’t go as late and film isn’t a Saturday event, basketball season gives us more games. Football is a predictable schedule. Games on Thursdays for freshman and JV, Fridays for varsity. Labor Day is the only holiday to work around. (We haven’t made playoffs in years so we are not familiar with upsetting Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.) Basketball has tournaments with only one or two known tip-off times. Practices run through holidays and start early, early in the morning. District games begin over Christmas break and the times are random.

Sometimes I wonder how we have any true conversations as husband and wife during season. There are days where I feel like the only times we’ve spoken are through text — grocery lists and requests to pick up dinner. Other days, the house is asleep when he gets home and still sleeping when he leaves in the morning. There’s always a kiss good-night when he arrives and a kiss good-bye when he goes, but not many words shared.

When my son played for my husband, I kept up with the schedule and said ‘good game’ to two as they headed out the door. Now, I seem to forget the practices and game day requirements. Really, you have to get to school early to open the gym, heat it up, turn on the lights and pull out the balls? Really, you have to drive across town to go to a gym to play? In the middle of the week? Did we talk about this?

Healthy communication takes work in any marriage. As the wife of a coach, I have learned there are a few keys to helping keep up conversation.

  1. Ask about the game. Bonus points if you know the name of the opponent. You may be on the receiving end of a grimace or groan, but it typically draws out a few anecdotes. Your day is then naturally asked about and conversation can begin.
  2. Go to a game or two or three. Being there in the stands is a reassurance and a support. Even though you may not know the name of a single athlete, your husband can hear you cheer. And, if you plan well, dinner or lunch can be an after-game activity. Loads of conversation occurs over a meal after a game.
  3. Turn off the TV and put down the phone. Yes, you are trying to relax after your day and nothing beats an episode of 90-day Fiancée or your latest fave on Netflix, but having the television off creates a silence that can be filled with discussions on all sorts of topics.
  4. Share a story. While you may feel like you are talking to a wall because you aren’t invoking a response, he does hear you. Have one of your children talk about their day or something interesting that occurred at school. Talk about what you saw on the news or read online. Anything to get some words out there.

There are some nights where only a few sentences are shared before our heads hit the pillows. Other nights, at least one of the keys come into play and conversation is had. We can talk through the girls’ upcoming activities, any work travel I have and laugh about something going on in our lives.

We’ve learned over the years what works and what doesn’t. Neither of us responds well to post-it notes or to-do lists. I also know when a game or a practice or a season is going so badly that it is best not to talk about the game or try and crack a joke. Those days, we let the quiet do the talking. There’s always another day, another game, another conversation.

And, sometimes three words are what you can get in before everyone gets going.

Good game, babe. Or another set of three words, I love you.